Kids, in particular teens, can get very wrapped up in what they are doing when they spend time online. Our blog this week offers tips on helping kids to learn about digital etiquette.
Teach the “Grandma Rule”: As communication via social media becomes ingrained in our culture, children need to know social networking etiquette. A good rule is to only share or leave comments that you would feel comfortable with granny seeing or reading. If you hesitate or question how grandma would react, then you probably should not be posting. This concept helps kids define what behaviours are acceptable. Also, remind children that nothing is really private online, everything has the possibility of being shared.
Be in the know: Communication is key, because it is estimated that 70 percent of our teens actually take measures to hide their online activity from adults. These behaviours range anywhere from dimming screens, closing windows, or creating dummy social media accounts. It is important that we stay informed about trends, new social media hangouts, and what sites our kids frequent. Ask a child to friend you online and check their activity frequently.
Let them know it’s okay to “say no” to sexting: Sexting involves much more than sending a racy selfie to someone. Teens who sext can be emotionally hurt, bullied, and targeted by sexual predators. Even with the lurking threats, sexting is now frequently perceived as a safe alternative to sex and a normal part of adolescent development. Children need to know that they can decline a sext request. If a person truly cares about them, they will respect the decision to say no.
Take every opportunity possible to remind teenagers that what they see when they are using social media is only a snippet of people’s lives and may not always be a true reflection of reality.
Having an open communication style with your teenager will be a great help when it comes to conversations about social media. If your child knows that they can talk openly to you about what they are encountering when they are using social media, they will be more likely to regularly share their experiences.
Remind your teenager to exercise the same level of caution when they are using social media as they would when they are offline. If they wouldn’t share personal information with a stranger in the ‘real world’, then why would they share this information when they are online?
For older teens, encourage them to activate the safety settings on any digital devices that they are using, be that a smartphone, iPad or Tablet. Regularly reviewing these settings with your teenager is a good idea.
The important thing about safely navigating social media for all of us is knowing how to make smart choices with what you share and who you share it with!